PLANT, Inc. Blog
Encouraging Parent Led Education
By Mona K. Koerner, PhD
The world is a constantly changing place. The pace of change is rapidly increasing. 'Structure' is being replaced with 'interconnectedness'. Just like the large supercomputer has given way to the worldwide web, the basic unit of the economy, the organization (or corporation), is transitioning into an inter-organizational network.
Similar to the Biblical analogy of the Church as the body of Christ, the whole is greater than the individual. In other words, the economy is changing in a way that will allow it to outperform anything that could have been achieved in a market of competing organizations. However, to make this transition complete, the organization has to give way to the network. In other words, the institution has to die.
Our education system is failing because it is failing to change in the right way. While there maybe subtle changes that occur in what is taught or how things are taught, the overall structure of education has not changed. Our education system is an 'institution'.' It is designed to train people for an economy based on organizations, hierarchy, management structures, and limited (closed) participation. It is bureaucratic not fluid. It is based on compliance, submission, rule-following, time-punching. It trained workers well for manufacturing jobs and factories in which organizations where the primary structures in the economy. But while the structure of our economy is changing rapidly, moving away from the individual institution, the institution of education has remained largely unchanged for over 100 years. Worse, recent efforts to improve education have meant greater federal involvement moving toward a more centralized education system. Research has shown that more centralized education systems consistently produce a homogeneous, and well-trained work force advantageous for sophisticated manufacturing or services, while more decentralized systems create a talent base for creative industries. In other words, our educational structure is moving backwards relative to our economy.
This is not only bad news for our children; it is bad news for our economy as well and our future. Education is one of the building blocks of the economy. As our economy is moving in the direction of decentralization and network interconnectedness, our education system is moving in the opposite direction becoming less fluid, more bureaucratic. The failure of our educational model to change structurally to match our economy is not only hurting our children it will eventually prevent our economy from thriving.
In economic terms progress occurs when obsolete industries are allowed to die. As painful as it may be for the workers involved in, for example, the telegraph industry where those who lost their jobs had to be retrained or take lower paying jobs, the death of the telegraph industry made the growth of other industries possible. Government intervention to save the telegraph industry would have been detrimental to progress. In the same way, the educational institution needs to be allowed to die. We need to stop training our children for manufacturing or service jobs that take place in an organizational hierarchy and start thinking in terms of interconnectedness and multi-hubbed networks that strive toward coherence and are system focused with loosely controlled participation.
What would an interconnected network model of education look like? It would look like a complex web of intersecting and linking resources that are not confined to closed structures like schools or governments. It would mean each student has a unique relationship to a vast number of different types of resources that are linked together to form a system that ultimately provides a greater opportunity for learning than any single institution can provide. It would mean that through the web of connections the student could gain skills, information and knowledge much more quickly, efficiently and to a greater degree than currently possible within the institutional structure. Instead of a giant super computer housed in single location, taking up an entire building of space, it would look like the internet with multiple smaller nodules connected together so that the computer power of all is harnessed together and computer capacity far outstrips the supercomputer and information is drawn from vastly greater variety and it is all done with less cost and less space.
More importantly, it would mean our children would be gaining creative, productive skills suited for the information age rather than the industrial age. It would mean they could fit into an ever changing economy that is interconnected and fluid; that they would succeed in loosely controlled economic exchanges; that they would carry us into the future with skill and knowledge and creativity, not try to fit into dying industries of the past.
Mona K. Koerner, PhD.
Mona K. Koerner holds a PhD in Public Policy/Political Economy as well as an MBA. She has a vision for a network model of education in which unlimited amounts of resources can be linked together to deliver a unique learning experience to each individual child.
PLANT, Inc. Blog is written by local parent educators and supporters of parent led education.